Albania

Last Updated: July 2010

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

WARNING: Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Albania before a U.S. consular officer issues an "Article 5 Letter." See the "How to Adopt" section for more information.

Albania is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all adoptions between Albania and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA implementing regulations.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn More.

Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Albania is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Albania, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Albania also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: No known residency requirements.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Under Albanian law, prospective adoptive parents must be a minimum of 18 years older than the adopted child.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Both married and single prospective adoptive parents are permitted. When an adoptive parent is married, the consent of their spouse is required.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Considered during the adoption process by the court as an indicator of the potential parents' ability to care for the child, but no guidelines are posted.
  • OTHER REQUIRMENTS: Post has not discovered any additional restrictions on adoptive parents.
Who Can Be Adopted

Because Albania is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Albania must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Albania attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Albania's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Albanian Law number 9695, dated March 19, 2007, on the adoption procedures and Albanian Adoption Committee: Only children listed in the Albanian Adoption Committee are eligible to be adopted. In the lists of the Committee are registered those Albanian children, about whom:

  1. Abandonment has been declared by way of a final judgment (see article 250 of Albanian Family Code)
  2. Consent has been given by their biological parents; OR
  3. Consent has been given by the court for the children kept under care (see article 246 of Albanian Family Code).

Relinquishment Requirements:

According to Article 246, the consent of both parents is required for the adoption of a minor. If one of the parents is deceased, is unable to express their will, or had their parental rights removed, the consent of the other parent is sufficient. When both parents of the child are deceased, or when their capacity to act has been removed or the parents are not known, the court decides if the child may be adopted. If the adoptee has reached the age of 10 years old, their opinion may be considered and if they are 12 years of age their consent is required.

Abandonment Requirements:

  • Declaration of abandonment (article 250 of Albanian Family Code)
  • The district court can declare as abandoned, a minor at a social care institution, public or private, or in the care of another person, when the parents, in an obvious manner, have not been involved with the child for a period of one year before the request for the declaration of the abandonment was submitted.
  • Declaration of abandonment (article 246 of Albanian Family Code)
  • If the minor has been housed in an institution since their birth, the timeframe of one year is reduced to three months.

Age Requirements:

Child should be under 18 at the time of court decision granting adoption, but to be eligible for a U.S. visa through The Hague Adoption process the child must have been under the age of 16 when the court adoption decree was granted.

Sibling Requirements:

No known restrictions

Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions:

No known restrictions

Waiting Period:

An orphan must have been put up for local adoption for a period of six months before an international party may initiate adoption proceedings. This section of law covers all international adoptions, and requires confirmation that the child has had no chances to be adopted in Albania in the six months from the date of registration in Albanian Committee lists.

Revocation of relinquishment of rights:

According to Article 248 consent for the adoption may be withdrawn by the biological parents within 3 months from the time it was given. This period serves as a probationary period for the relationships between the adoptive parents and the adoptee. The probationary period is needed to establish an adoptive relationship between a child and a family.

The parents may withdraw their consent even after this three month period has elapsed, up until such time as the competent court enters its decision.

The court, before it decides, must verify that the above-mentioned timeframes have been fulfilled, that all necessary efforts to return the child to the biological parents have been made and that the probationary period with the adoptive family has been successful. If the person, with whom the child was placed during the probationary period and after, refuses to return the child, the parents may petition the court for the return of the child, if this is in the child's best interest.

FAMILY ADOPTIONS:

Under Albanian Family Code, there are two kinds of adoptions. The first type is legalized family adoption, whereby one relative transfers the parental rights of a child directly to another relative. Under this process, the child is never abandoned and the parents never relinquish parental rights. In these cases, the children are never available for adoption by any other party and never appear on the list of eligible children, which is where the Albanian Adoption Committee lists all children who are eligible to be adopted by any fit party. It is important to note that under Albanian law, any Albanian citizen who later acquires an additional citizenship is still considered an Albanian citizen. This means that naturalized Albanian-Americans are eligible to adopt under this procedure. Unfortunately, due to the process of transferring rights, this type of adoption will not qualify a child to receive a visa through Hague Adoption procedures.

WARNING: Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Albania before a U.S. consular officer issues an "Article 5 Letter." Read on for more information.

How To Adopt

Albania's Adoption Authority

The government office responsible for adoptions in Albania is the Albanian Adoption Committee. Individuals may not deal directly with the Albanian Adoption Committee or with individual orphanages or biological parents.

The Process

Because Albania is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Albania must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Albania before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider (SEE BELOW)
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Albania
  6. Bringing your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider: The first step in adopting a child from Albania is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Albania. Learn more.

    All adoptions must be processed by an adoption agency accredited by the Albanian Adoption Committee. Currently, two U.S. adoption agencies have been accredited:

    Bethany Christian Services
    901 Eastern Avenue, NE
    Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503-1295
    Tel: (616) 459-6273
    Fax: (616) 459-0343

    International Children's Alliance
    1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 1002
    Washington, D.C. 20036
    Tel: (202) 463-6874
    Fax: (202) 463-6880
    Email: adoptionop@aol.com
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Albania. Albania's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Albania's law.
  3. Be Matched with a Child:
    If both the United States and Albania determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Albania may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

    The Albanian child must have a certificate from the Albanian Adoption Committee stating that s/he is adoptable. This means that the child has been in an orphanage for at least six months with no contact from his/her biological parents, and that the orphanage has been unsuccessful in placing the child with an Albanian family. The prospective adoptive parents may not go to an orphanage to select a child without authorization from the Albanian Adoption Committee. (Authorized local adoption agencies, i.e. International Children's Alliance, or Bethany Christian Services, can contact the Albanian Adoption Committee to obtain authorization for the prospective adoptive parents to visit an orphanage). In general the Committee will propose a child whom the prospective adoptive parents may accept if they wish.
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

    After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy. The consular officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.

    If the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will send a letter (an "Article 5 Letter") to the Albanian Central Authority. Do not adopt or obtain custody of a child in Albania before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter.

    Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
  5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Albania, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Albania.

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Albania generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Maintains the list of children eligible for adoption, suggests prospective children to prospective parents.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: Will review the case and determine if the adoption should be granted based on the welfare and best interest of the child.
    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Coordinate between the Adoption Committee and the prospective parents, prepare the paperwork and court documents for local adoption, schedule a court date, and assist parents to obtain the new birth certificate and passport.
    • TIME FRAME: Varies depending on court workload. Currently, the wait from the time the parents are matched with a child it will take approximately 2-3 months to have a finalized court decision. This process requires two court sessions, about two weeks apart.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Handled by the accredited adoption agency.
    • ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
      • A written request clearly stating the reasons why he/she/they want(s) to adopt a child;
      • Birth certificate, marriage certificate of the adopting parent(s), divorce decree and former spouse's death certificate as applicable;
      • Police records of the adopting parent(s);
      • Personal, family, social and medical information on the adopting parent(s);
      • Home Study (An evaluation study on the adopting family made by a social worker);
  6. All the above-mentioned documents are submitted to one of the adoption agencies accredited by the Albanian Adoption Committee.

    NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.

  7. Bringing Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    Birth Certificate

    You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

    How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Albania:

    The ASP or adopting parent/s will have to submit the court decision of adoption to the Civil Registry, where the child is registered. The civil registrar enters the new parent/s information on the Albanian National Registry of Civil Status, and then issues the birth certificate under the new name (if applicable) and adopting parents' names in it.

    Albanian Passport

    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Albania.

    How to obtain a Passport for the child in Albania:

    The ASP or adopting parent/s will first get a notarized request for passport issuance to the child. then, the ASP or the adopting parents go to the Passport Office, usually located in the same building with the Civil Registry where the child is registered. A copy of the final court decision regarding adoption is held by the Passport Agency.

    U.S. Immigrant Visa

    After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

    For this process you will need to obtain:

    A DS-260 application for an Immigrant Visa, 2 visa photos of the child, child's birth certificate, passport, medical report for child, and if the child will be 16 years at the time of the visa interview, he or she will need to obtain police clearances from the Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor, and Court offices. If this age requirement will apply to your child, remind your ASP to coordinate with the Consular Office to obtain the correct clearances.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents as long as certain requirements are met.

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which became effective on February 27, 2001, children automatically become U.S. citizens when all of the following requirements have been met: at least one parent is a U.S. citizen; the child is under 18 years of age; there is a full and final adoption of the child; and, the child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant to live in the physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. A foreign-born child who is adopted abroad and enters the United States on an IR-3 or IH-3 visa, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. A foreign-born child who will be adopted in a U.S. court and enters the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa will become a U.S. citizen when the adoption is finalized in the United States (the child will be a legal permanent resident until then). For further information, please consult with the consular section at U.S. Embassy Tirana or the nearest office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration (BCIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Additional information is available at http://adoption.state.gov/.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Albania. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.

Obtaining Your Visa

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for Albania, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Albania, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

Using an Interpreter

There are only two authorized adoption agencies in Albania, International Children's Alliance and Bethany Christian Services. Both agencies have staff that are fluent in English and familiar with the adoption and U.S. visa application process.

After Adoption

Obtaining Travel Documents

The final court decision and the child's travel documentation cannot be issued until 13 days after the court date. The child must remain in Albania during these 13 days, although s/he may reside with the adoptive parents during that time. Please remember: when traveling to the U.S. with your newly adopted child, since the child is an Albanian citizen, s/he will need to obtain a transit visa from the embassy of the country of transit in order to be permitted to travel through. The country of transit cannot issue this transit visa until the child is issued a passport. In many cases the transit visa application may take several days or more to process. (Note: this procedure is separate from the U.S. immigrant visa process.) Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to arrive in Albania a day or two before the court date and to remain afterwards for approximately three weeks.

What does Albania require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

Post is unaware of any reporting or other requirements after the adoption is finalized. We strongly urge you to discuss any possible post-adoption requirements with the adoption agency you choose.

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Albania
Address: Elbasani Street, No.103, Tirana, Albania
Tel: ++355 (0)4 224 7285
Fax: +355 (0)4 223 2222
Email:TiranaUSConsulate@state.gov
Internet: http://Tirana.usembassy.gov

Albania's Adoption Authority
Address: Adresa: Rr : Mine Peza, Pallati 87/3, Shkalla 2, Tirana, Albania
Tel: +355 (0)42 227 487; :+355226465
Fax: +355 (0)42 227 487;
Email: kshb@komitetibiresimeve.com.al
Internet: http://www.komitetibiresimeve.com.al/

Embassy of Albania
Address: 2100 S Street NW, Washington D.C. 20008
Tel: 202 223 4942; 202 2234942
Fax: 202 6287342
Email: embassy.washington@mfa.gov.al

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)